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Attic What IZIT #8

by Bikeman • July 26, 2023

We had a lot of fun with the Attic What IZIT back in the day. We'd dig up some of the more obscure parts hiding here and put it out to our loyal visitors to come up with what it is. Bikeman would always know of course but it was entertaining to see how long it would take for someone else to come up with the correct answer. We would post the answer so the winner could take a victory lap. In the event of multiple correct answers we would post the most complete or creative one. We'll try to dust one of these off each week and keep the excitement going of what will pop up next.

Originally Published early in this century

Happy Holidays to all the Attic Faithful, this one should be easier than the last couple. We are looking for the Make, Model and usage of this product. What made this item unique? As always in the event that more than one person has the correct information the most creative answer wins and personal accounts of product usage will be graded high.

This edition was proved challenging for some. It is an obscure item that never made a splash in the consumer market place. It is the Shimano Airlines rear derailleur. It was tough to pick one winner, but in the end one piece of useless knowledge separated our winner from the pack. The winner provided the actual Shimano Part Number for the product.

The Winner is Geoff Yeo

"Shimano airlines! Air powered rear shifting for downhill bikes. 7speed. compressed air canister on the downtube, 2 thumb shifters, circa 2000. that's the rear derailleur RD-AR01. It was a good idea, I never tried it on a bike, but I played with it at Interbike, does that count?

Runners Up Include:

Jon Wallace

"That derailleur looks like the piece Shimano developed a few years ago, for use with their air-shifting system for DH. I believe it was called "Airlines" or some such. It had twin paddle shifters, a big air can, and hoses from the can to both parts. I saw a few in action at Mt. Snow and in Colorado, but they didn't go over too well with unsponsored riders, probably due to the price ($1000 or so) and need to fill the air cannister every so often. If only they'd gone hydraulic instead - there seems to be a small but vocal marketplace for that idea, and no one's done much with it for at least a decade."


"A true blast from the past, Shimano "Airlines" rear derailleur used for downhill racers. 1x7 speed to work on 9 speed spacing with reinforced alloy rear cassette. Left and right "shifter" supply a blast of air from the rechargeable tank stored on the bike. One hand for downshifts, the other for up. Do you suppose we will see a resurrection of some form with the popularity of hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano's reverse spring technology. A hydraulic rear derailleur... that just might be cool."

Will Waterstrat

"Shimano Airlines Derailleur Made for DHers, shifts by means of a pressurized air bottle that is usually mounted to the downtube. I believe it had two separate shifters, one up one down, and they were usually mounted on left/right side of bars. Never used one myself, but I remember when they came out... seemed like an interesting idea, no cables to gunk up. Not that your cables could gunk up that much on a 2 minute downhill run. That was an easy one. (assuming I'm right) "

Chris Jenkins

"I'm going to have to guess that it's the Shimano Airlines, pneumatic rear derailleur. The kit was very expensive at $1000'ish. I want to say it came out around '94-'95. Target market: downhill racers. I wonder what happened when you ran out of compression..."

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